Meet the Author

Julius Lester

Portrait of Julius Lester

Julius Lester did not set out to become a writer. "Growing up, I wanted to be a musician," he recalls. "I was not a good writer, and I never dreamed I'd become an award-winning writer." He did become a musician, recording many of his songs on two albums. He produced and hosted a radio show for eight years and a television show for two years. He also pursued photography and wrote a number of books for adults. Then, when his editor asked him to write a children's book, he discovered a whole new direction for his professional life. Altogether, he has written more than 25 books. Besides writing, Lester enjoys teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which he has done for nearly 30 years.

Lester's own family history, as well as the history of African Americans generally, is the inspiration for many of his books. "Sometimes I feel like there are all these spirits of blacks inside me, people who never had the opportunity to tell their stories, and they have chosen me to be their voice." Lester feels that the cowboy Bob Lemmons is one such person.

Julius Lester has lots of advice for young writers: "Read, read, read, read, read…. You learn how to write by reading — reading just everything. My second bit of advice is that you have to know grammar…. The art of writing is how to write a good sentence. My final words of advice are rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite…. The way you write it the first time is seldom the best that it can be."

Photography Credit


Other Books Written by Julius Lester

  • To Be a Slave
    (illustrated by Tom Feelings)
  • The Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History
  • The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit
    (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)
  • How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have? and Other Tales
    (illustrated by David Shannon)
  • John Henry
    (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)
  • Sam and the Tigers: A New Telling of Little Black Sambo
    (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)
  • From Slave Ship to Freedom Road
    (illustrated by Rod Brown)
  • What a Truly Cool World
    (illustrated by Joe Cepeda)
  • Albidaro and the Mischievous Dream
    (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)